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Influenza Needs To Be Taken Seriously

January 9, 2018
Emmetsburg News

Influenza is a silent killer and needs to be taken seriously. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health as of Jan. 5 six Iowans have died from this silent killer.

As a person in my 50's, I knew better than to not get a flu shot. Not only am I older but I also have diabetes and asthma three underlying and contributing factors that can lead to death. Unfortunately, for the first time in five years, I did not get a flu shot. I've never had Influenza but yes I've had stomach flu. The two however are completely unrelated.

Here is some important information that everyone needs to know about Influenza. The true flu is caused by an influenza virus and causes mostly upper respiratory illnesses. The "stomach flu" can be caused by a number of viruses ad causes gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea and vomiting.

When your doctor talks about the flu, he or she is referring to influenza or the seasonal flu; which can be deadly. The most common symptoms include: cough, congestion, body aches and pains, fever, exhaustion or fatigue.

Influenza comes on suddenly and will make you feel terrible. It is very difficult to continue on with your life when you have the flu. The symptoms may last anywhere from 2 to 10 days. Although most healthy people recover from the flu without any serious problems, some people may develop complications or secondary infections. If you have the flu, start feeling better for a few days and then develop worse symptoms with a higher fever, contact your health care provider. This is a classic sign that you have developed a secondary infection and you may need a different treatment depending on your diagnosis.

While no one wants to get influenza, there are several things you should do to start feeling better and protect those around you from catching it.

1. Go home: If you develop symptoms while at work, school, and a friend's house or in any public place, go home. Being around other people will only spread the virus. The best thing you can do is to go home and get into bed to try and get as much rest as possible.

2. Contact your healthcare provider: When you develop influenza symptoms or think you might have influenza, you should contact your healthcare provider within the first 48 hours. This will give your healthcare provider a chance to determine if an antiviral medication will benefit you.

3. Call in sick: Don't try to go to work or to school. This will only expose others to influenza spreading the virus. Most schools have a policy that until you are fever free for 24 hours without the use of Tylenol or Motrin you should not come to school. Even though most workplaces do not have a rule such as this, it should be followed anyway.

4. Ask for help if you need it: Trying to take care of your family when you are sick can only make you more fatigued and the influenza last longer.

5. Watch for signs of complications: If you are having any of the following difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest pains, confusion or sudden dizziness it is important that you seek medical attention immediately.

Since I got sick in Dec. 2017, it has taken me several weeks to finally begin feeling like my old self. With two types of Influenza A and B, it is more important than ever that we all look after ourselves and our friends, neighbors and others we come into contact with. Both strains of Influenza are common currently in our county and thankfully no one has died from either in Palo Alto County. This does not mean that we can let our guard down. We must be ever vigilant in containing this virus so a pandemic outbreak does not occur.



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